How to Powder-Coat Metal Art Items





Introduction: How to Powder-Coat Metal Art Items

I did this at TechShop Menlo park.

owder coating is a great long lasting way to color any metal pieces. I thank VW as the first company to use this method for their production and sharing it so that it can be widely used by many industries as well as just a common artist and tinkerer such as myself. The process is super forgiving, quick, fun and extremely durable. It uses very fine Polyester powder and an electro-static process to adhere it to the metal.

Step 1: Sand- Blasting

This is the inside to the sand blasting box. We put some metal pieces into it and blasted them with aluminum oxide. You can also use walnut shells or glass beads. Stripping the metal as much as possible is crucial in the process of getting the best powdering coating results.

Step 2: Chemical Rinse

Using TSP solution for steal items and Simple Green solution for aluminum brush and wash pieces thoroughly to insure all of the invisible oils are washed away. Wear nitrile gloves to protect you delicate hand skin.

Step 3: Pre-bake

Instead of towel drying the metal after rinsing with chemicals and then water, pre-bake to get all the water dried. Paper product drying will leave little paper particles on the metal which become dramatized when powder coated and become big blobbules. Pre baking only takes about 5 to 10 minutes at 375F.

Step 4: Set Up

Set up includes: 
* Install your tip and nozzle on the powder gun
* Connect the gun to the powder container and the powder container to the main box
* Ground with clamp to clean metal
* Connect main box with Pressurizes air and set PSI to 4 to 5
* Plug main box into electrical socket.
*Turn the main box ON and set KV's to 60 
*Pull the trigger on the gun and wait until it's appearing like a person exhaling smoke.

Step 5: Point and Shoot

Keeping the tip of the gun about an inch to two inches away from the piece- cover thoroughly with powder and enjoy the magic.

Step 6: Bake

At 375F for at least 20 minutes. Get your pieces out and enjoy the outcome. 

Step 7: Revel in You Success!!




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    20 Discussions

    That is a very nice setup, it looks pretty expensive though. For people who just need to do small projects they have less expensive systems that still do a good job. I bought a Craftsman brand for $25.00 half price on and it works well enough to do things like bike frames and smaller. It doesn't require an air compressor, instead it has a little fan inside and it's all self contained. It looks sort of like a blow dryer. You can also use an old regular kitchen oven or for really small things a little toaster oven. but you can never use it to cook food again, so don't use your wife's oven. There are also parabolic heaters that can be used for really big things that won't fit in an oven, you just keep moving the heater around to one section at a time. There are also plans online to make your own powder coating oven from metal studs, sheet metal, insulation and heating elements from an old electric kitchen oven. There are even online plans for home made powder coating guns I think they even have them on this site. I have also found that lacquer thinner works well for cleaning the parts, and it dries immediately with zero residue. Harbor freight also makes a nice powder coating gun for only about $75.00. It is more like a copy of the more expensive models. You can also bake the parts at 400 degrees for 15 minutes after the powder starts to melt which is a few seconds.

    If you look at the chart on the box, use the strongest solution. You can make it even stronger then that. Good luck. Let me know what results you come up with.

    Tri Sodium Phosphate powder diluted in water. The more you use the more effective the cleaning. It requires some soaking then scrubbing with an abrasive pad. It maybe cheaper but then its also more time consuming as you'll have to scrub. Just curious: what exactly do you guys produce? :)

    1 reply

    Forgot to specify, for a very strong solution use about 1 to 5 by volume or read directions on the box. Wear plastic gloves.

    The chemicals you talk about are used for pre treatment of your working surface. You can use them instead of water and simple green to insure your metal to powder coat is clean and the powder adheres properly.

    1 reply

    You should come to TechShop Menlo Park and I will tech you how to use our equipment. Then you can do all of your fun powder coating jobs yourself.

    How is this not only an instructable but a FEATURED instructable? It is a bunch of photos of a guy using a powder coating gun and a powder coating oven to cure it. Nothing is "made" or "hacked". It's like a brightly colored manual on how to use what you purchased. Maybe I missed something...?

    4 replies

    I wish more Instructables were like this one in that they include lots of photos, show how to do something the right way, using the proper tools and don't include the superfluous use of the word 'hacked' to describe a minor modification to a totally useless process. The maker community that Instructables supports shouldn't be based on exclusionary aesthetic judgements like whether something is 'hacked' enough. The point is to help each other learn how to do or make stuff and from my perspective this Instructable does that just fine. Hopefully it will inspire someone to adapt this process to be cheaper, easier,better etc. This is how progress works in a collaborative community.

    Because the name of the website is INSTRUCTables, not HACKables or MAKEables. Showing how you did something is all it takes.

    Fair enough, I guess I have just been so impressed with all of the other mind-blowing content on here that to see someone upload some pics and write a few sentences based on a manual just seems...subpar.

    My experience with powder coat is that it is great on flat or curved surfaces but does not stick to sharp edges. I have lawn furniture that was powder coated and is now coated with rust where the edges were not covered and water got to the bare metal. Also, an aluminum bicycle frame came back with the aluminum showing along the edges of the drop outs and seat tube.

    Question about the oven.... not clear from the pic, is this a cheap used oven now dedicated for this purpose or do I need more specialized equipment? -B

    1 reply

    Ahh, read actionjksn's. I may just make my own if I get into this. Might start with used oven and later hork the parts for the larger version.

    great instructable! I've been toying with the idea of powder coating some computer stuff and this shows just how simple it can be.

    What is the "powder" that you use? Is it available in other colors?

    Pieces look real nice.

    This would be great for a bicycle frame, but it would take a large oven!

    Also if you use sand blasting for steel parts its also helpful to use a zinc primer.

    Since you need water to clean these, as you mention, why not try to enter this in the Water Challenge?